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Everyday Hinduism

Joyce Burkhalter Flueckiger

ISBN: 978-1-405-16011-7 May 2015 Wiley-Blackwell 256 Pages



This innovative introductory textbook explores the central practices and beliefs of Hinduism through contemporary, everyday practice.

  • Introduces and contextualizes the rituals, festivals and everyday lived experiences of Hinduism in text and images
  • Includes data from the author’s own extensive ethnographic fieldwork in central India (Chhattisgarh), the Deccan Plateau (Hyderabad), and South India (Tirupati)
  • Features coverage of Hindu diasporas, including a study of the Hindu community in Atlanta, Georgia
  • Each chapter includes case study examples of specific topics related to the practice of Hinduism framed by introductory and contextual material

Acknowledgements viii

A Note on Transliteration x

Map of India xii

Introduction 1

The Terms “Hindu,” “Hinduism,” and “Hindu Traditions” 2

Dharma: A Way of Life and Religious Tradition 3

Context and Multiplicity 6

Ethnographic Selection and Chapter Topics 9

A Note on Caste 13

1 Families of Deities 18

The Trimurti 20

Mythological and Narrative Families 21

Vishnu 21

Shiva 25

Devi, the Goddess 28

Gramadevatas, Village Deities 30

Temple Families 34

Ritual Families in Domestic Shrines 36

2 Oral and Visual Narratives and Theologies 46

Oral Performance Genres 47

Visual Narratives and Theologies 49

Verbal and Visual Together 56

Where Does the Narrative Lie? 61

The Ramayana Tradition Performed 62

3 Loving and Serving God: Bhakti, Murtis, and Puja 73

Bhakti, Devotion 73

Singing to God and the Goddess 76

Worshipping Deities in Material Form 77

Narratives of God in the Murti 80

The Deity without Form 83

Modes of Worshipping the Murti 85

The Services of Puja 89

Online, Cyber Puja 93

4 Temples, Shrines, and Pilgrimage 97

Temples 98

Sthala Puranas 99

Temple Architecture 101

Temple Worship 104

Shrines 109

Pilgrimage 110

Tirumala, a Southern, Pan]Indian, and Transnational Pilgrimage Site 114

Narsinghnath, a Sub]regional Pilgrimage Site 119

5 Festivals 123

Divali: Festival of Lights 127

Ganesha Chaturthi: Domestic, Neighborhood, and City]Wide Celebrations 129

Place]Bound Festivals: Tirupati’s Gangamma Jatara 138

6 Vrats: Ritual Vows and Women’s Auspiciousness 145

Temple Vrats 146

Domestic Vrats 147

Vrat Kathas: Ritual Narratives 150

Two South Indian Vrat Traditions 151

Gender and Vrats 164

7 Samskaras: Transformative Rites of Passage 169

Pregnancy and Birth 170

First]Year Samskaras 171

Upanayana and Rituals of Transition to Adulthood 172

Ranga Pravesham: Ascending the (Dance) Stage 177

Marriage 178

Death Rituals 186

8 Ritual Healing, Possession, and Astrology 193

Accessing Multiple Healing Sites 194

Healing across Religious Boundaries 199

Possession 203

Astrology 211

Afterword 220

Glossary 227

Index 231